Thanks to columnist Gregg Erickson for sharing a different perspective on the Juneau access road. I have several brief comments which I hope people will consider as the idea develops.
1. There is more to the road than moving people between Juneau and Haines. The road will open a new and much-needed playground for the residents of Juneau, much like the ones presently enjoyed by those living on the Kenai Peninsula.
Think of the hunting, fishing, camping, kayaking, climbing, etc., opportunities the road will create. There are people who, of course, do not want this to happen for personal reasons. Many of them live in Haines and Skagway and already enjoy (and promote) the opportunity we wish to have.
2. The Legislature will never create such a fund. Legislators from the other parts of the state would be boiled in oil for supporting it. And then there is Gov. Sarah Palin. The demographics are against Juneau as they have been and will continue to be, probably forever. Even if such a fund was created, it would not take long for it to be seized for projects in Southcentral.
3. It is not immoral to benefit from federal earmarks. Earmarking and minority set asides are just part of the way in which federal resources are allocated. If we refused to participate in receiving them, it only means that we would do without. I assure you that the citizens of Southcentral would not shed a tear for Juneau as the federal dollars we could have had are ladled onto their plates.
Our best bet in the long run is to accept the federal money and build the road. Once it is there, it is there forever. The clearing, grading and paving cannot be torn up and moved north.
Jan Van Dort
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